Mourners told of slain soldier's commitment

A Northern soldier killed in Afghanistan was totally committed to his job, mourners today heard.

A Northern soldier killed in Afghanistan was totally committed to his job, mourners today heard.

Hundreds of friends and family packed into Portstewart Baptist Church in Co Derry to hear Captain David Patten’s former minister Val English pay tribute to the 38-year-old father of one, killed during fierce fighting in Sangin Town, in the southern Helmand province.

Cpt Patten is survived by his wife, Paula, and a 14-month-old daughter.

The Aghadowey man, killed on Tuesday, June 27, was serving with the special forces at the time, although attached to the Parachute Regiment, and died along with a Royal Marine soldier when fighting flared after a rocket-propelled grenade destroyed a vehicle.

He was the fifth British forces death in Afghanistan in the past three weeks.

The Rev Val English said Mr Patten would be sadly missed.

“I will just be trying to bring the family something which will lift them a bit.

“It is very difficult at a time like this to help them.

“They are a great family, a very close family, and obviously are suffering a great loss.”

The clergyman added that Mr Patten was very sharp and friendly with a good sense of humour.

“He was totally committed to what he did,” he added.

Mourners began arriving at the church on the outskirts of Portstewart over an hour before today’s 2pm service and they included East Derry MP Gregory Campbell, from the Democratic Unionist Party.

The former General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland, Sir Phillip Trouesdell, was among former and serving military figures who attended.

An uilleann-piper played as a 14-strong guard of honour from the Royal Irish Regiment 1st Battalion stood outside the church as people arrived. Also among the mourners was Coleraine Councillor Norman Hillis.

There was heightened security along the north coast before and during the service. The coffin arrived 15 minutes before the service draped in a Union flag with military medals and a belt belonging to Mr Patten on top of his coffin.

A floral tribute that said ‘Dad’ was also carried in the hearse which was followed from the family home in Aghadowey by a silver BMW and a black Volvo containing friends and family.

The dead soldier started his career with the Royal Irish Rangers in Germany.

He was laid to rest next to his father, Terry, who was a major in the former Ulster Defence Regiment.

This funeral comes the same week as another soldier from the Parachute Regiment was killed in Sangin and the number of casualties continues to rise.

Mr Patten attended Limavady High School between 1979 and 1984, along with his brother, Terry.

Reggie McCay, his music teacher and pastoral head, paid tribute to his former pupil.

“He and his brother were two super chaps. We were so proud of them. It was just so sad to hear of David’s death,” he said.

“He was always in the right place at the right time and he was utterly reliable.

“He was a model pupil, an excellent student. He showed great determination and whatever he started, finished.”

Another friend of the family, Adeline Farr, said the death had been a shock.

“He was a wonderful boy and a wonderful son. The last time I met him was at his stepmother’s 50th birthday party and he was just so good,” she said.

“They are a lovely family and David will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”

A number of former UDR soldiers who served with Mr Patten’s father were also at the service.

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